John 3:16 and God's Love for the World

Discussion in 'Calvinism & The Doctrines of Grace' started by Travis Fentiman, Jul 4, 2014.

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  1. Matthew1344

    Matthew1344 Puritan Board Freshman

    Also, for everyone who says "no" to the general offer, would you say its ok to say "God demands that everyone believe on his Son!"

    I hope that makes sense...
  2. Matthew1344

    Matthew1344 Puritan Board Freshman

    The youtube video made the comment:

    "The gospel is neither well meant, nor is it an offer. The gospel is not well meant or sincere, because salvation cannot be sincerely offered to people where no provision has ever been made for their sins, nor ever will be. Likewise the gospel is not an offer because the atonement has already accomplished the work of putting away the sins of particular people. To say that it is well meant or an offer.... is an denial of salvation by sovereign grace taught in the scriptures.

    It also is not a command."

    What are you guys think about what he said? it is only a 5 min video, i encourage you to listen to the whole thing.
  3. Loopie

    Loopie Puritan Board Freshman

    The gospel is well meant because it means what it says:

    John 6:37 (NASB)
    37 "All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out."

    Jesus' promise is not that everyone on the planet will come to him. Jesus' promise is that the one coming to him will not be cast out. If we ask the question: "Who comes to Jesus?" the answer is "Those that are given to him by the Father." People naturally do not have the ability nor the will to come to Christ. They have to be made willing by God who performs heart surgery on them (replacing the heart of stone with a heart of flesh).

    Acts 2:38 (NASB)
    38 Peter said to them, "Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."

    This is certainly a well-meant offer (as well as being a command). The beautiful offer of the gospel is that if anyone repents and believes they will be forgiven of their sins. When we ask the question: "Who will repent and believe?" the answer is "Those that have been drawn by the Father." The promise IS NOT that everyone will be drawn by the Father, but that those who repent will be saved. It is not speaking to the secret work of God, but to the activity of men (which is the result of the work of God).

    Consider the fact that all men are naturally rebels against their King, who is God. They set his castle on fire, kill his servants, and curse his name. The King is poised to send in his army and destroy every rebel. Of course, rebels themselves are dying as the castle continues to burn. The beautiful offer that the King makes is that if any rebel repents he will be forgiven. The problem is that the rebels hate the King and have no desire to repent. Their hearts must be changed, and that only happens by a divine act. But that does not mean that the offer is not well-meant. If the offer was not well-meant, it would mean that a person could repent and believe but still be put to death for rebellion. It would mean that the King was lying.

    Acts 17:30 (NASB)
    30 "Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent"

    Sounds like a command to me.
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2014
  4. Travis Fentiman

    Travis Fentiman Puritan Board Freshman


    If it is of help, the Sincere Free Offer of the Gospel interpretation of Eze. 18 was the virtually universal position of the puritans. One example amongst many is Thomas Manton's two sermons on it found here:

    Thomas Manton on the Sincere Free Offer of the Gospel | Reformed Books Online

    Also, here is David Dickson (Scottish puritan pastor and professor, and co-author of the Sum of Saving Knowledge) on God sincerely desiring, by His revealed will, the salvation of the reprobate. From his Commentary on the Epistles:

    “And with all deceiveableness of unrighteousness, in them that perish; because they received not the love of the Truth, that they might be saved.”

    2 Thess. 2:10​

    "'Because' – Article 7: Touching the subjects of Antichrist, and their perdition, and the causes thereof: The retinue of Antichrist, properly called his household, and familiars, are described to be such as with obstinate minds stubbornly cleave unto him, even to the end, and in whom the Devil is very effectual.

    (1) From the property of Reprobates, They perish, they are of the number of those that perish.

    (2) From the meritorious cause of their perdition, because they receive not the Truth offered in the Word of God with love, that they might be saved."
  5. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Allow me to express something I learned in 1st grade? God gets everything He desires. I wish not to be contentious but I am suggesting you look into resources that do not contradict what I learned in grade school which is contrary to many of the reformed today.

    Start here, for this review is like stepping into a room with the lights on at night.
  6. InSlaveryToChrist

    InSlaveryToChrist Puritan Board Junior


    When the Bible says in Isaiah 53:10 that "it pleased the LORD to bruise [Christ]," do you honestly think that the Father delighted in the unspeakable sufferings of the Son just because He delights in suffering itself? Of course, you don't. God loves justice, but He is not malicious. The only reason why any suffering in the universe delights God is because it glorifies His righteousness. As Lamentations 3:33 says, "He doth not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men." He does not inflict suffering for its own sake.
  7. Matthew1344

    Matthew1344 Puritan Board Freshman

    I see your point :)
  8. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor


    David Dickson did not teach that God sincerely desires the salvation of the reprobate. You are putting words in his mouth. Please stop misrepresenting the historic reformed position.

    "The Lord's will is the sovereign and absolute cause of all his working, and that whereon all men's faith and reason must rest: whatsoever he pleased, he did. -- David Dickson, Explication of the Psalms, 2:453.
  9. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    David Dickson, Truth's Victory Over Error: " Note, That the cause of this reprobation is not man's sin, but the absolute will and good pleasure of God. Man's sin indeed is the cause why God will punish, but no occasion why he did ordain to pass by, or to punish man. This decree is just, because God has power over man, as the potter hath power over the clay. Neither is the end of this decree the condemnation of the creature, but the manifestation of God's justice."
  10. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    David Dickson, Therapeutica Sacra, 176-177: "There is indeed an Offer to be made to all the Hearers of the Gospel, to whom God in His Providence doth send His Messengers, who are appointed to make offer of Peace and Reconciliation through Christ, upon condition of hearty receiving it, even to such as the Lord knoweth will reject the Offer altogether... But this doth no ways import or infer an universal conditional Redemption or any conditional Decree of God: For there is a vast difference between a conditional Decree of God and a Decree for bringing about God's Purpose by offering Peace unto Men upon a Condition. A conditional Decree presupposeth that God is not resolved what to do about them, to whom He shall make offer of Peace upon condition, but that He doth suspend the Determination of His own Will, till the Offer be made and the Man hath refused or accepted of the Condition propounded unto him; which sort of Decree cannot be in God, to whom are known all His own Works, and all Men's Works from the Beginning, Acts 15.18. And Who doth all things according to the determinate counsel of His own will, Eph. 1.11. But a Decree to offer Peace upon Condition of Believing in Christ is a wise mean both of hiding and executing His own secret Decree, and putting the Persons to whom He makes the Offer unto Trial; that after the drawing forth of the natural Enmity & Backwardness, which is in all Men to come unto Christ, till they be drawn by God, He may have Mercy on whom He will, and take the Refuse at the Hands of Others for the Glory of His Justice and Grace, according as He hath determined in Himself. The one way determineth Man as God willeth; the other way determineth God as Man willeth."
  11. Travis Fentiman

    Travis Fentiman Puritan Board Freshman


    You are absolutely right that Dickson argued against a conditional redemption and any conditional decree in God, all of which I affirm as well. However, it is clearly the case that Dickson believed that God sincerely desires the well-being and salvation of all the reprobates that the Gospel comes to. You will notice that Dickson takes Sincere Free Offer of the Gospel interpretations of Ps. 27:7-8; Matt 22:1-7; Matt 11:16-17; Matt 23:37; Rom 10:21; Isa. 65:2; 2 Thess. 2:10 and John 4:10 as documented here:

    David Dickson on the Sincere Free Offer of the Gospel | Reformed Books Online

    Below are a few quotes:


    Commentary on Ps. 81:13

    "Next, this manner of speech shows how acceptable and pleasant unto God it is to see the faith, obedience and welfare of His [visible church] people, all joined together in His appointed order.

    4. Fourthly, that God delights not in the death or destruction of His people, but that they should repent and live.

    6. Sixthly, that God requires a suitable meeting of His people to His dispensations, that is, that they may be so willing to hearken to His voice, and so loath to offend Him, as He does manifest by word and works His willingness to save them, and His loathness to destroy them."

    Therapeutica Sacra
    Book 1, Chapter 3

    Wherefore, whosoever in the preaching of the Gospel, are charged and commanded to repent, to believe in Christ, or turn unto God, they are commanded also to use all these external means [“hear a Sermon preached, to read the Scripture, to be informed by Catechizing, and conference of Religion…”] whereby they may be informed of the duty required, and of the means leading thereunto; in the exercise of which external means, they may meet with sundry common operations and effects of Gods Spirit, before they be regenerate or converted, whereof the use may be sound not only in, but also after, conversion; And if any man shall refuse, slight or neglect to follow these preparatory exercises, which may prepare him for conversion, he is inexcusable before God and man, and guilty of rejecting of the offer of reconciliation, yea guilty of resisting of the Holy Ghost, of which sin and guiltiness the holy martyr Stephen charges the misbelieving Jews, Acts 7:51 [ Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.].

    Book 1, Chapter 6​

    “Together with these external means, serving for drawing on the covenant and going on in it, the common operations of God do concur; common to all the called, both elect and reprobate, and gifts common to both, are bestowed, such as illumination, moral persuasion, historical, dogmatic and temporary faith, moral change of affections, and some sort of external amendment of their outward conversation, saving grace being the special gift of God to His own.”

    Book 1, Chapter 6

    4. Of this manner of covenanting and taking into Church-fellowship, all the called that consent in a moral way to the condition of the covenant, regenerate and unregenerate, we have a pattern in the Lord’s covenanting with all Israel, Ex. 19, the covenant is offered to all the Israelites, without exception; all are invited to enter in covenant without exception, arguments, motives and moral inducements are made use of, from their experience of the Lord’s goodness and gifts given to them before; most ample promises of spiritual benefits, are made unto them, conditionally to be bestowed on them both in this life, and in the life to come, verses 4-6, the people embrace the condition of the covenant, v. 7-8, the people are sanctified, and prepared to receive the holy commands and will of God, in the rest of the chapter;
  12. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    You affirm a conditional decree in God even if you deny the expression. As Francis Turretin stated, "For since no act of proper and intrinsic will in God concerning the event of anything can be granted (which does not imply a decree), whoever recognizes a conditional will in God must necessarily admit a conditional decree in him." Institutes, 1:397. You claim God has desires for events which are conditional on the will of man. That is a conditional decree, whether you like to admit it or not.

    Again, your quotations from David Dickson do not speak to the point you are trying to make. It is a futile errand. Messrs. Dickson and co. stood firmly in the centre of the reformed faith and refuted Arminian doctrines from beginning to end.
  13. Matthew1344

    Matthew1344 Puritan Board Freshman

    Did CH Spurgeon believe in the well meant offer? When I read his stuff, it looks like he did.
  14. Travis Fentiman

    Travis Fentiman Puritan Board Freshman

  15. Loopie

    Loopie Puritan Board Freshman

    Matt and Travis,

    What do you believe a well-meant offer is to look like, and what would a not-well-meant offer look like? It seems that we need to work out some of our definitions and concepts of what constitutes a 'well-meant offer'.

    For instance, let's say that you and I all live in the same neighborhood. Let's also say that I post a flyer/announcement on the town center bulletin board in preparation for a coming storm/natural disaster. The announcement reads as follows: "Anyone who comes to my house will be given shelter, food, and clothing until the storm passes."

    Now, to make it more akin to humanity's spiritual deadness, let's say that everyone in the town hates me and wishes that I would leave. On their own, left to their own devices none of them want to come to my house for shelter, food, and clothing, even though there is no other place that can keep them safe.

    So if no one shows up at my house, is my offer not well-meant? It still certainly is, because I will do what I promised I would do. What if everyone shows up at my house? The same thing applies, and I will do what I promised I would do.

    But the offer says nothing about who specifically will be provided with a change of heart so that they actually want to come to my house. Everyone in the town hates me, and so only if something changes their heart will they come to my house.

    This analogy of course is not perfect because I am human, not God. In the case of salvation, God's offer is well-meant. Those who come to him will never be cast out. But the situation is that NO ONE is going to come to him unless God does something first. God is surrounded by human rebels and he must change their hearts so that they actually desire to come to him and be saved.

    I look forward to hearing more about your thoughts regarding what you think constitutes a well-meant offer.
  16. Matthew1344

    Matthew1344 Puritan Board Freshman

    No idea, im just a spectator trying to figure this out myself. I havent decided what side of the fence im on.

    And on another note, if you deny the well meant offer do you also say that God has no love for the reprobate at all?
  17. Matthew1344

    Matthew1344 Puritan Board Freshman

    I might be mistaken, but from what I am reading, the debate is not if he is truthful in his offer but if he desires for all men to come. Not that whether or not take care of all who come but rather or not he truly wants all to come.
  18. InSlaveryToChrist

    InSlaveryToChrist Puritan Board Junior

    Yes, and that is sadly how Travis defines the terms "sincere" and "well-meant."

    This false doctrine of the Well-meant Offer of the Gospel is actually closely related to the false doctrine of Common Grace which would have us believe that the goodness God bestows on people demonstrates His favour for them, while in reality whether God means it as a blessing or a curse depends on whether they will receive it with thanksgiving (that is from the heart) or not. And it is the same thing with the Gospel offer.

    Of course, there are those who insist that God's goodness IS the very definition of His favour, but if they took into consideration the fact that the more good things God gives to the reprobate, the more good things will be rejected by them and the more wrath will be stored for them for the judgment day. Surely, God does not think that the temporary pleasures He grants for the reprobate in this life compensates for their increased suffering under the wrath of God.
  19. Loopie

    Loopie Puritan Board Freshman

    Yes but the offer that God makes is not that he will regenerate all men and draw them all to himself in a salvific way. The offer is simply that whoever comes will not be cast out. Those who repent and believe will be saved. We are not warranted in assuming that since God is commanding everyone to repent that everyone is able and willing, in and of themselves, to actually do this (Romans 8 suggest that no one is able to please God naturally).

    Now it is clear that God does not 'desire' all men to repent. If that is the case then God will be 'eternally bummed' by the fact that so many people are in hell when he tried as hard as he could to save them. We must not ignore the spiritual deadness of men. No one is ever going to exercise saving faith unless God regenerates their hearts and gives them the gift of faith. So the simple fact of the matter is that God chooses to save some and not others. That alone is enough to suggest that clearly he does not desire the salvation of everyone, because if he really did want everyone to be saved he alone has the power to make that happen.

    As for God loving the reprobate I hope you recognize that God's love is multi-faceted, much like our own love. I love my wife differently then I love other peoples' wives (and rightly so). I love my children differently than I love other peoples' children (again, rightly so). So even though I affirm that God has a general benevolence for his creation, including all of humanity, he has a specific, salvific love for his people. I would affirm that he does not love the reprobate 'salvifically'. Yet to say that God therefore has no love at all for the reprobate is to suggest that the ONLY love that God can have is salvific love. That is overly simplistic and not at all fair to the Biblical text.
  20. Travis Fentiman

    Travis Fentiman Puritan Board Freshman


    1. I agree with Turretin and you that a conditional will in God would infer a conditional decree in God. However, the revealed will of the Sincere Free Offer of the Gospel is not conditional upon anything, and none of the 50 historic reformed writers I have posted on my website ever say that it is conditioned upon anything. God's revealed will that reprobate gospel hearers should come to Christ and be saved is not conditioned on anything in them. God's will for such is true whether they have faith or not, whatever the state of their will is. To insinuate that the Sincere Free Offer of the Gospel is a conditional will in God is to widely misunderstand the historic reformed position and miss the target completely.

    You apparently are trying to lump together the Sincere Free Offer of the Gospel with Amyraldianism or Hypothetical-Conditional Universalism. But it is the same reformed theologians that were arguing against Amyraldianism and Hypothetical-Conditional Universalism that were preaching and defending that it is God's revealed will that all gospel-hearers, including the reprobate, should be saved.

    2. Here is Turretin repeatedly affirming and defending explicitly that it is God's sincere will (which is not conditioned upon anything in the will of man) for gospel hearers (including the reprobate) to receive the gospel and be saved.

    Institutes of Elenctic Theology, topic XV, question II, paragraphs XIV-XVI and XXI, trans. George Musgrave Giger, ed. James T. Dennison, Jr., Phillipsburg, N.J.: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1992-97, vol. 2, pp. 507-09

    "XIV. Although God does not intend the salvation of the reprobate by calling them, still he acts most seriously and sincerely; nor can any hypocrisy and deception be charged against him -- neither with respect to God himself (because he seriously and most truly shows them the only and most certain way of salvation, seriously exhorts them to follow it and most sincerely promises salvation to all those who do follow it [to wit, believers and penitents]; nor does he only promise, but actually bestows it according to his promise); nor as to men because the offer of salvation is not made to them absolutely, but under a condition and thus it posits nothing unless the condition is fulfilled, which is wanting on the part of man. Hence we cordially embrace what is said on this subject by the fathers of the Synod of Dort: "As many as are called through the gospel are seriously called. For God shows seriously and most truly in his word, what is pleasing to him, to wit, that the called should come to him. He also seriously promises to all who come to him and believe rest to their souls and eternal life" ("Tertium et Quartum: De Hominis Corruptione et Conversione," 8 Acta Synodi Nationalis . . . Dordrechti [1619-20], 1:[302]).

    XV. He, who by calling men shows that he wills their salvation and yet does not will it, acts deceitfully, if it is understood of the same will (i.e., if he shows that he wills that by the will of decree and yet does not will it; or by the will of precept and yet does not will it). But if it refers to diverse wills, the reasoning does not equally hold good. For example, if he shows that he wills a thing by the will of precept and yet does not will it by the will of decree, there is no simulation or hypocrisy here (as in prescribing the law to men, he shows that he wills they should fulfill it as to approbation and command, but not immediately as to decree). Now in calling God indeed shows that he wills the salvation of the called by the will of precept and good pleasure (euarestias), but not by the will of decree. For calling shows what God wills man should do, but not what he himself had decreed to do. It teaches what is pleasing and acceptable to God and in accordance with his own nature (namely, that the called should come to him); but not what he himself has determined to do concerning man. It signifies what God is prepared to give believers and penitents, but not what he has actually decreed to give to this or that person.

    XVI. It is one thing to will reprobates to come (i.e., to command them to come and to desire it); another to will they should not come (i.e., to nill the giving them the power to come). God can in calling them will the former and yet not the latter without any contrariety because the former respects only the will of precept, while the latter respects the will of decree. Although these are diverse (because they propose diverse objects to themselves, the former the commanding of duty, but the latter the execution of the thing itself), still they are not opposite and contrary, but are in the highest degree consistent with each other in various respects. He does not seriously call who does not will the called to come (i.e., who does not command nor is pleased with his coming). But not he who does not will him to come whither he calls (i.e., did not intend and decree to come). For a serious call does not require that there should be an intention and purpose of drawing him, but only that there should be a constant will of commanding duty and bestowing the blessing upon him who performs it (which God most seriously wills). But if he seriously makes known what he enjoins upon the man and what is the way of salvation and what is agreeable to himself, God does not forthwith make known what he himself intended and decreed to do. Nor, if among men, a prince or a legislator commands nothing which he does not will (i.e., does not intend should also be done by his subjects because he has not the power of effecting this in them), does it follow that such is the case with God, upon whom alone it depends not only to command but also to effect this in man. But if such a legislator could be granted among men, he would rightly be said to will that which he approves and commands, although he does not intend to effect it.

    XXI. The invitation to the wedding proposed in the parable (Mt. 22:1-14) teaches that the king wills (i.e., commands and desires) the invited to come and that this is their duty; but not that the king intends or has decreed that they should really come. Otherwise he would have given them the ability to come and would have turned their hearts. Since he did not do this, it is the surest sign that he did not will they should come in this way. When it is said "all things are ready" (Luke 14:17), it is not straightway intimated an intention of God to give salvation to them, but only the sufficiency of Christ's sacrifice. For he was prepared by God and offered on the cross as a victim of infinite merit to expiate the sins of men and to acquire salvation for all clothed in the wedding garment and flying to him (i.e., to the truly believing and repenting) that no place for doubting about the truth and perfection of his satisfaction might remain."​
  21. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    Eric, the serious and sincere offer of the gospel is put forth in indefinite terms -- sinners, mankind, world. It is not directed to all men without exception. Jesus Christ did not obtain salvation for all men without exception. The salvation held forth in the gospel is a particular salvation which has been obtained by Christ for His people. It is offered to all men indiscriminately on condition that they come to Christ and believe in Him for the salvation of their souls. God desires to save them who believe. This is the express testimony of Scripture. When this "desire" is broadened beyond the terms of Scripture it is followed by ill consequences.

    First, universal desire makes the offer insincere because it extends the terms beyond what has actually been accomplished. Christ did not obtain salvation for all men yet God is presented as if He desired the salvation of all men. The "desire" is not supported by any saving action on God's part, which introduces duplicity and simulation into His dealings.

    Secondly, insincerity is generally defined as promising one thing and intending another. The doctrine of universal desire severs the preceptive will from the decretive will and creates two contrary wills in God -- one which says God desires the salvation of every man and another which effectively excludes some men from salvation. This can be understood as nothing other than double-dealing. Universal desire thus destroys the sincerity of the gospel offer.

    Thirdly, like universal redemption, the doctrine of universal desire creates a bridge that is wide enough to cover the world but not long enough to reach to the other end. If God desires it for every man, and every man is not in fact saved, the salvation offered in the gospel is something other than finished and accomplished work of Christ. What that other thing might be is left to one's imagination to decipher.

    Fourthly, universal desire makes salvation an object of the preceptive will rather than the decretive will. This makes the salvation offered in the gospel a duty to be performed by man rather than a gift of God. This is traditionally identified as neonomianism.

    Fifthly, universal desire introduces an ineffectual quality into the word of God, so that it does not accomplish that for which God has sent it. The idea that God does not always fulfil His word, or that the word of God can be made of no effect, will only undermine faith in the promise of the gospel. How can the hearer be assured that God will save him?

    Sixthly, universal desire obscures the threatening which is attached to the gospel. "He that believeth not shall be damned." If the promise is an expression of desire on God's part, the threatening must be also. If the desire is unconditional and universal, God is presented as desiring to save all men and to damn all men, which is absurd.

    Seventhly, and finally, God is blessed for ever. His chief end is His own glory, not man's happiness. It is for God's glory to damn those who do not believe. If He desired their salvation He would desire their happiness above His own glory, which is idolatry. Universal desire makes the happiness of God to depend upon the will of the creature. It thereby introduces an element of conditionality into the intrinsic will of God. His desires are left unfulfilled whilst all men are not saved. As some men shall be damned for eternity the end result is that God must either change His desires (which introduces mutability into the Godhead) or be eternally unsatisfied.
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2014
  22. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    Travis, the more you multiply effort to support this error the more you multiply errors. You are now claiming that the revealed will is absolute. The only absolute will of God is the decretive will. The revealed will is always set forth in conditional terms. Please take some time to think about it. You are digging a hole you will not easily climb out of.
  23. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    The doctrine of conditional universal desire is subject to the same objections which reformed divines have raised against the doctrine of conditional universal decrees. It makes God dependent upon the creature for the fulfilment of His desires.

    Thomas Boston: "Such conditional decrees are inconsistent with the infinite wisdom of God, and are in men only the effects of weakness; and they are inconsistent with the independency of God, making them depend on the creature."

    James Fisher: "What is the absurdity of conditional decrees? A. They make the will of God, which is the first cause, to depend upon the will of the creature: and they plainly suppose, that either God is ignorant of the event, or incapable to accomplish it, or that he has determined nothing certainly about it; all which are blasphemously absurd."

    Replace the word "decrees" with "desires" and the same criticism applies.
  24. Travis Fentiman

    Travis Fentiman Puritan Board Freshman

    Eric, you are very right that definitions are key to this discussion.

    From your writings above, it appears that you mean that God in truth gives a sincere conditional offer, that if the gospel-hearer repents and believes, then they will be saved. I believe Matthew Winzer would probably agree with this. I, and others that affirm the sincere, well-meant offer, agree as well.

    Though usually, as the long history of this issue has unfolded, the sincere free offer of the gospel has come to mean something more, and historically almost always more has come along with the concept.

    The Sincere Free Offer of the Gospel means that God, in some way, shape or form, by His revealed will (not his decrees), wills that the gospel-hearer (including the reprobate) should come to Christ and be saved. The very offer itself is an expression of benevolent love (though not complacent love) and mercy to the gospel hearer, including the reprobate, and expresses God's desire that they should receive what He offers to them.

    All of this has been expressed in a wide variety of language throughout church history.

    Here is Matthew Henry, a puritan, and author of the most popular Bible commentary in church history, on John 3:16:

    "(3) Herein God has commended his love to the world: God so loved the world, so really, so richly. Now his creatures shall see that he loves them, and wishes them well. He so loved the world of fallen man as he did not love that of fallen angels; see Rom. v. 8; 1 John iv. 10. Behold, and wonder, that the great God should love such a worthless world! That the holy God should love such a wicked world with a love of good will, when he could not look upon it with any complacency. This was a time of love indeed, Ezek. 16:6,8. The Jews vainly conceited that the Messiah should be sent only in love to their nation, and to advance them upon the ruins of their neighbours; but Christ tells them that He came in love to the whole world, Gentiles as well as Jews, 1 John ii.

    2. Though many of the world of mankind perish, yet God’s giving his only-begotten Son was an instance of his love to the whole world, because through him there is a general offer of life and salvation made to all. It is love to the revolted rebellious province to issue out a proclamation of pardon and indemnity to all that will come in, plead it upon their knees, and return to their allegiance. So far God loved the apostate lapsed world that he sent his Son with this fair proposal, that whosoever believes in him, one or other, shall not perish. Salvation has been of the Jews, but now Christ is known as salvation to the ends of the earth, a common salvation."​

    For a bunch more quotes from Henry expressing the Sincere Free Offer of the Gospel, see here:

    Matthew Henry on the Sincere Free Offer of the Gospel | Reformed Books Online
  25. Matthew1344

    Matthew1344 Puritan Board Freshman

    Can you explain how what you are saying is different than those two?
  26. Travis Fentiman

    Travis Fentiman Puritan Board Freshman


    You have just said that God's revealed will is always conditional. You previously very clearly, deliberately and pronouncedly said that all conditional willing is the same as conditional decreeing.

    According to necessary inference, that means either

    (1) you affirm the revealed will of God and full under your ban against Arminianism.​

    (2) or, you deny that God has a revealed will, and go against all reformed theology and are left with no ethics or commands of God.

    To not fall into this disjunction you must agree that the Sincere Free Offer does not fall into your forced categories.
  27. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    Samuel Rutherford identifies this as the first universalistic tenet of Arminianism: "Arminians run upon six universalities. 1. They say, God beareth to all, and every man, of what kind soever, an equal, universal, and catholic good-will; yea, to Esau, Pharaoh, Judas, as to Jacob, Moses, and Peter, to save them all." (Christ Dying, 427.) Again, "but the truth is, God's general love to Arminians, is a faint desire, and a wish that all and every one, men and angels, be saved: and bestowing on them means, 1. Which the Lord knows shall plunge them deeper in hell, and make their everlasting chains heavier and more fiery; better he love them not." (Ibid., 474.) Samuel Rutherford spends a good 100 pages refuting this unloving love and undesiring desire.

    Obadiah Sedgwick likewise identifies this doctrine as the first universalism in the system of Arminian errors: "Before I present you some Arguments against this Opinion, I shall crave your favour, that I may spread the whole sum and frame of it, as it is by the Arminians themselves set forth in their writings; they teach: 1. That upon the fall of mankind, in Adam, there was a gracious affection in God, by which he was yet mercifully affected to love all and every man (alike) so as seriously to desire the salvation of all men, and of every particular man, Ut nullus omnino homo sit, cujus salutem non velit; so that there was not any one man, whose salvation God did not will." (Bowels of Tender Mercy, 295.) Quite a number of pages is taken up with refuting this opinion.

    John Brown of Wamphray also identifies this universalism as one of the foundations-stones of Arminianism: "An universal will in God to save all, which they call an antecedent will; and hold forth as a velleity, or a wish and desire, that all might be saved; as if God could not effectuate whatever he desired, or could have a velleity towards any thing, which either he could not or would not effectuate.” (Life of Justification, 551 [561].)

  28. Travis Fentiman

    Travis Fentiman Puritan Board Freshman


    If I had ceaseless time and energy I would happily respond to all of your points above. But since I don't, I will let Samuel Rutherford respond to the first 2.

    Christ Dying and Drawing Sinners

    It [Isa. 55] expresses two things,

    1. A vehemency and a serious and unfeigned ardency of desire that we do what is our duty, and the concatenation of these two, extremely desired of God, our coming to Christ and our salvation. This moral connection between faith and salvation is desired of God with his will of approbation, complacency, and moral liking, without all dissimulation, most unfeignedly; and whereas Arminians [and those who deny the Sincere Free Offer] say, we make counterfeit, feigned, and hypocritical desires in God, they calumniate and cavil egregiously, as their custom is.

    A Survey of that Survey of the Sum of Church Discipline
    Book 1, Chapter 16, in the immediate context of the Sincerity of the Free Offer

    2. Whereas he [Hooker, wrongfully] says, The distinction of voluntas beneplaciti [will of good-pleasure, God's decrees and election], and voluntas approbans [will of approval, God's commands including the sincere offer of the gospel], contains apparent contradictions. It seems he never heard of this distinction allowed by the Reformed Churches; and that he joins with the Arminians [and those who deny the sincere free offer of the gospel], who teach, That this distinction places in God two contrary wills; and that he wills and decrees one thing from eternity, and commands and approves the contrary to his creatures: Hence there must be guile and dissimulation, and no serious dealing in the Lords commands, says Arminius, Corvinus, and the Arminians at the Conference at Hague, and the Synod of Dort.​
  29. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    Travis, the revealed will is general and indefinite; it concerns things, not events. While it is so it does not invade the sphere of the decretive will. When you seek to make it relate to specific people (all men) and specific events (to be saved) you have entered the sphere of the absolute decretive will of God. You call it revealed, but it is in fact decretive, and when it is conditional on man and left unfulfilled, you have taught a conditional, unfulfilled decretive will.

    Consider the following from Jonathan Edwards: "There is no inconsistency or contrariety between the decretive and preceptive will of God. It is very consistent to suppose that God may hate the thing itself, and yet will that it should come to pass. Yea, I do not fear to assert that the thing itself may be contrary to God's will, and yet that it may be agreeable to his will that it should come to pass, because his will, in the one case, has not the same object with his will in the other case. To suppose God to have contrary wills towards the same object, is a contradiction; but it is not so, to suppose him to have contrary wills about different objects. The thing itself, and that the thing should come to pass, are different, as is evident; because it is possible that the one may be good and the other may be evil. The thing itself may be evil, and yet it may be a good thing that it should come to pass. It may be a good thing that an evil thing should come to pass; and oftentimes it most certainly and undeniably is so, and proves so."

    Your doctrine of divine desires extends beyond the thing (salvation) to the event (that all men would be saved). You end up with two wills which are contrary to each other relative to the same object.
  30. Travis Fentiman

    Travis Fentiman Puritan Board Freshman

    While I could easily list out half a dozen (or more) charges against those who deny the Sincere Free Offer (as has been done against those that hold to it), I'll keep it to two:

    (1) They must explain away all the universal language in the Bible as if it is always and only speaking to the elect. This should rightly appear to any normal reader as being seriously strained, in explaining away all the general language as if it was all particular.

    (2) They strip God of so much of His love. This is the most tragic consequence.
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